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The Brief: Texas GOP Preps for Eventful State Convention

While the Republican Party's presidential nominee has been decided, the state's GOP convention in Dallas will still have plenty to watch: from Ted Cruz's homecoming to further conversation on the ongoing fight over transgender rights.

Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz rally in Texas prior to the 2016 Texas primary.

The Big Conversation

More than 10,000 delegates will gather over the next three days at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas for the state GOP convention. While the party's presidential race has been decided, the Tribune's Patrick Svitek outlines five things to watch for during the gathering:

•    The convention will serve as a homecoming of sorts for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, as the former candidate will deliver his first formal remarks since calling it quits earlier this month.

•    The presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump could potentially score more endorsements from top Republican leaders in the state who have yet to put their support behind his nomination, including House Speaker Joe Straus and U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-San Antonio.

•    Any political drama at the convention will likely center on the state GOP chairman's election where both Chairman Tom Mechler and challenger Jared Woodfill have hurled nasty insults at each other in bids to lead the party.

•    Gov. Greg Abbott will take center stage this morning where he is scheduled to address the convention's opening general session at 10:45 a.m. Abbott will use the convention, the first to take place under his tenure as governor, as an unofficial launch for his new book "Broken but Unbowed," a project that prompted speculation he could be seeking higher office in the future. Abbott has denied these assumptions.

•    The weeklong discussion of transgender rights – particularly those of students using bathrooms aligned with their gender identity while at school – could likely come to a head at the convention where the party may discuss adding the issue to the party platform. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick could also gain more support for his crusade against these bathroom policies from leaders at the convention.

The convention could also see renewed efforts for Texas to become an independent nation, Mother Jones' Josh Harkinson wrote, as the party's platform committee voted to put a resolution detailing said independence up for a vote at the convention. 

Trib Must Reads

Analysis: Whose Texas GOP Is It, Anyway?, by Ross Ramsey – The Republican Party of Texas’ convention in Dallas gives the heart of the state’s GOP electorate a chance to see their heroes and stars and to figure out — if possible — where the various conservative tribes are going to come together.

Two Contentious GOP Runoffs for Top Criminal Court, by Jordan Rudner – One candidate shares a name with a much more famous Republican. Another is accused of being a Democrat in disguise. A third has repeatedly pledged to take a criminal law certification test, which he’s already failed at least once.

Video: Paxton Defends Himself in New Video, by Patrick Svitek — In a new video released by his campaign the day before he's set to appear in court in Dallas, embattled AG Ken Paxton defends himself against "crimes I didn't commit" and says he's been wrongly accused by people mad that he's a "conservative Christian."

State, Lawyers Debate Identifying Execution Drug Supplier, by Johnathan Silver – Revealing Texas' supplier of execution drugs could have a harmful effect on the provider and as a result leave the state empty-handed, a lawyer for the state suggested Wednesday during an appeals court hearing.

Fire Causing West Plant Explosion Was Intentionally Set, Officials Say, by Johnathan Silver – Three years after a West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion killed 15 people, including 12 firefighters and first responders, state and federal officials said Wednesday that someone set that fire, committing a criminal act.

Cruz Running for Re-election in 2018, by Patrick Svitek – Ted Cruz said Wednesday he plans to seek a second term in the U.S. Senate. This comes the week after the Texan dropped out of the GOP presidential contest.

Elsewhere

(Links below lead to outside websites; content might be behind paywall)

Appeals court questions secrecy of Texas execution drug, The Associated Press

Licensed to Carry: Handguns in Texas, The New York Times

Ted Cruz poised to challenge Trump in TexasPolitico

Houston psychologist pleads guilty to 'tampering' with police evaluationsHouston Chronicle

Cornyn on meeting Trump: I want to know how he’ll win and govern, The Dallas Morning News

US won't appeal court rulings on lesser prairie chicken, The Associated Press

Ken Paxton joins fight over transgender bathroom policies in Virginia, The Dallas Morning News

T. Boone Pickens to host event for pro-Trump super PACPolitico

University of Texas regents set to approve gun rules, The Associated Press

Quote to Note

"I'm here to tell you that I'm not going anywhere. And I want you to know that I'm continuing to do the job I was elected to do." 

— Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a video posted online one day before an appeals court hearing in his criminal case

Today in TribTalk

Fort Worth ISD starts dangerous bathroom war, by Nicole Hudgens – The implementation of Fort Worth ISD’s dangerous new rules make it clear that local government officials refuse to listen to the people on this issue, and now state leaders have been left with no choice but to speak out on an issue of privacy and safety for all Texans.

Patrick's transgender fearmongering is about politics — not safety, by Chuck Smith – The lieutenant governor doesn’t show up to school board meetings to discuss Texas' failing school system, but he won’t miss a chance to bully transgender kids who don’t want to cause any problems — they simply want to use the bathroom when the need arises.

News From Home

•    Across Texas there are programs to address the mental health needs of people who are suffering, but major challenges remain in providing mental health care to those who need it most, triggering passionate policy debates. Those challenges are the focus of Mental Health Matters, a partnership between The Texas Tribune, the Mental Health Channel and KLRU. Throughout Mental Health Month in May, we are joining forces to examine different areas of concern and the work being done to fill in the gaps.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation with Mike Morath, Texas Education Commissioner, on May 17 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation Series on the Direction of Health Care: Do We Have Enough Doctors?, on May 19 at the Medical World Americas Conference in Houston

•    A Conversation with state Sens. Kel Seliger and Kirk Watson on higher education funding in Texas, on May 26 at The Austin Club.

•    A Conversation with Ryan Sitton, Texas Railroad Commissioner, on June 3 at The Austin Club

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23-25 at the University of Texas at Austin

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